Skip to content

Peterborough: A solution to the League One mess

So what on Earth is going on with League 1 now?
London Road
Could Posh start next season with an advantage?

Yes, we're talking football, and contrary to social media guidelines, we're allowed to. However before we go much further, let me preface this with a sentence, on its own, that is clear in its meaning.

Football is not as important as people's lives and health.

So without apologising again for mentioning football because many people are wondering how this season will end because thousands of jobs across the country depend in it, what happens next? 

March is the worst possible month this could all have 'kicked off'. July to January - a stack of leagues that are far too far away from conclusion to invest too much time in, so let's void. April to June - lots of leagues are decided already, plenty of teams on the beach. But Feb/March...the time when teams bottle it, or a bizarre run of form kicks in for reasons unknown. 

And that's exactly the reason why Posh's chairman Darragh MacAnthony, among others, wants this season concluded on the pitch, rather than through mathematic artifice.

Yes, Peterborough Utd are one of the six 'rebels' who want football to finish this season via a strange device known as matches. Their cause has not been helped by the limbo of League 2 ending yesterday while the Championship shows no inclination to do the same, pincering League 1 in an untidy middle like the meat in a roughhouse sausage roll.

A lot of fans are critical of Posh, Oxford, Sunderland, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Ipswich for fighting for a conclusion, saying that they are neglecting safety (in favour of finishing the league in the same way they have done for 150 years, my words). 

The problem is that it may come across as them putting their own interests first, and it doesn't matter how many times they say that it isn't true.

So here's an idea. Let's promote the top three, based on ppg. Sorry Oxford, congrats Wycombe, Rotherham, and Coventry.

And now, whenever we start next season, some teams start with more points than others, based on where they've finished. We could cut off the table at tenth, and teams in the top ten are allocated accordingly.

Example - Ipswich are currently tenth, one point ahead of Gillingham in 11th. So Ipswich start next season with a point, and Oxford in third start with nine points (they're on 60, Gillingham on 51). Everyone 11th or below starts on zero.

It's not perfect. Some might say it's ridiculous. Is it any worse than teams playing during a pandemic that has killed 33,000 people in the UK? Or crowds with social distancing? Or any other scenario?

It's a horrible mess and if you're a non-football fan why the hell does it matter? Well I haven't been to the cinema in seven years, so I don't think cinemas should open until October 2021, just to be sure. And yes, I'm being flippant. 

I know people for whom sport is everything. Their fellow fans are family, their team is escapism, their sport is sacrosanct. 

Think back to 2018 and one of the best World Cups of all time - it felt pretty important then. Rugby and cricket fans felt 2003 and 2005 were pretty special years, didn't they? 

We saw one side disappear from the league this season before this started, and who knows how many others could go if something doesn't happen. The worry is that social distancing will kill off sports of all kinds, at every level. 

Which is why today we'll be paying attention to the Bundesliga, when a version of football returns this morning, in empty stadiums and with protected staff.

I have walked past London Road thousands of times in my life, and never has it seemed more ghostly than now.

Even in the summer, when the stadium is unused, we've always known that matchday roar is on its way back soon. Not this time. We all yearn to hear it again.